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Made in Wisconsin: Ariens in Calumet County is a family affair

Ariens Co is a family affair
Posted at 1:31 PM, May 29, 2024

BRILLION — This edition of Made in Wisconsin took us to the small Calumet County of Brillion where orange might as well be the official color. That’s because Ariens, the maker of the familiar orange lawn and snow equipment has been headquartered there for nearly a century.

The headquaters of Ariens in Brillion, Wisconsin
The headquaters of Ariens in Brillion, Wisconsin

The company opened in 1933 with just 4 employees and has grown to more than 1,500.

Inside the manufacturing facility the workers churn out snow blowers and lawn machines for Ariens and Gravely.

Snowblowers produced by Ariens
Snowblowers produced by Ariens

Inside the company they like to say their CEO’s last name and the company’s zip code haven’t changed since day 1.

“We're a Wisconsin based, Brillion based family and we've been here, Henry's been here since 1893” says current Chairman and CEO Dan Ariens.

Dan Ariens is the CEO of Ariens, which remains a family business.
Dan Ariens is the CEO of Ariens, which remains a family business.

He’s the great grandson of the company’s founder Henry Ariens.

But the Ariens family name is not the only common name in the factory. Many other workers make it a family affair. Melanie Hills says at one point her husband and all three of her children worked in the plant. She started with no experience in manufacturing and worked her way up to the manager of heavy duty welding and manufacturing overseeing nearly 40 people.

Melanie Hills and her whole family have worked with Ariens at some point or another.
Melanie Hills and her whole family have worked with Ariens at some point or another.

“It comes in as a flat piece of metal and we form it, paint it, and weld it and get it out as a full complete unit. So it's kind of neat to watch it progress as it goes through the different departments” says Hills.

CEO Ariens says the company is proud of its manufacturing in Wisconsin.

“Everything you buy from Ariens is made in the USA," he says. "We have to import some of our engines, some of our components from different countries around the world to maintain our competitiveness. But everything we start at sheet metal and work our way through and we assemble and put it in a box right here in Brillion.”

The company grows talent too. They work within Brillion and the surrounding areas to offer internship programs to local high schoolers and sponsor Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs.

Director of Sales Operations Andy Popp started as an intern from Brillion High School and 15 years later he says the family owned company drives his work.

Andy Popp
Andy Popp has worked with Ariens for 15 years and started as an intern.

“It's the pride. You walk out on the floor you get to see Dan almost everyday in the plant," Popp says. "There's not a lot of companies that you see the owner of the company almost every day.”

Ariens is one of the largest employers in Calumet County. It also runs the Ariens Co. Museum with 14,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, and a complete history of the company’s machines.

Ariens Co. museum pieces
Ariens Co. museum pieces

Daily admission is free, with optional guided tours.